Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - October 02, 2012

From: Smithville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Drought Tolerant, Turf
Title: Drought-resistant and grub-resistant grass for Smithville TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I want a drought resistant grass for a sunny area that is also resistant to grubs. I have lots of grubs but want a healthy soil of good microbes. Any ideas? Zoysia, Buffalo? I noticed that Tech Turf requires grub killer every spring. I want to get away from the chemical products as much as possible.

ANSWER:

The City of Austin's Grow Green Earth-wise Guide to Lawn Problems lists St. Augustine, bermuda, zoysia and buffalograss as being susceptible to grubs.  Their recommendations for controlling them includes mowing high and doing effective watering.  They recommend a non-chemical method for getting rid of them by applying nematodes to feed on the grubs.  You can read an article from Texas A & M AgriLife Extension "White Grubs in Texas Turf Grass" that gives more information on controlling them without the use of pesticides including the use of nematodes and the use of spiked shoes for aerating the soil.  Both methods have claims of eliminating as much as 50% of the grubs.  It sounds as if you are sure you have grubs.  This article from TAMU and the one from the City of Austin tells you how to test for them.  The City of Austin article also tells you symptoms of other lawn grass diseases that can be confused with a grub infestation.

Of the grasses you mention in  your question, only buffalograss is native to North America.  Since the mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is "to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes" our recommendation for a turf/lawngrass would only be native grasses.  Specifically, I would recommend you plant a mixture of native grasses developed at the Wildflower Center called Habiturf™.  Habiturf™ is a mixture of Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss), Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama) and Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass).  Even though buffalograss is susceptible to grubs this mixture of three short native turf grasses has many advantages over non-native turf grasses including the ones you mention in your question.  The major advantages are that after it is established it requires very little water, infrequent mowing and no fertilizer.  You can read our How to Article, Native Lawns:  Habiturf™ – The Ecological Lawn on how to install and maintain it.  Douglass King Co. in San Antonio carries Habiturf™ and Native American Seed in Junction carries a similar mixture called Thunderturf.  You can use the fall and winter to prepare your lawn for planting the grass seeds in the spring since you will need to remove other grasses and any weeds growing in the site.  Native American Seeds has an article, Planting Tips for Native Grasses, that suggests a method to get rid of the old vegetation and prepare the soil for the new seeds.  Be sure to watch the video on the Habiturf: Ecological Lawn page.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

What's causing holes in trunk of white oak tree in SouthBend IN?
June 10, 2013 - We have a huge White Oak in our backyard that is approx. 130 years old. This evening I became aware that there are several small holes around the trunk that appear to be oozing a dark sappy liquid. ...
view the full question and answer

Leucophyllum Resistant to Verticillium Wilt
March 25, 2015 - I need to know which large shrubs are resistant to verticillium wilt? I believe that a few of our Elaeagnus have succumbed to this disease, but being over 15 years old, I am not positive. I am thinki...
view the full question and answer

Problems with red oak from Austin
July 31, 2013 - I planted 3 Texas Red Oaks several years ago. The trees are in a tight cluster just a few feet apart. At the end of last summer, one of them began to develop brown spots and yellowed leaves. This summ...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing leaves on non-native globe willow in Las Cruces, NM
June 26, 2010 - I live in Las Cruces, NM. I have a good size globe willow tree. The leaves are turning yellow and brown dryness at tips and leaves are falling off. Does it just need water?
view the full question and answer

Red oaks that didn't drop leaves in Austin
April 04, 2012 - I have a number of Red Oaks on land that did not drop leaves this past fall. Now these same trees seem to be dead? It seems there's some type of mold/fungus on the trees. Some trees have small patche...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.